On 21 March 2015 the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries celebrated the completion of the Weston Library following an £80m transformation designed to create a 21st-century library where scholarship and research, conservation and digitization take place and where members of the public can explore the Bodleian’s national and international treasures.
The public opening marked the completion of an ambitious three-year project to dramatically renew this iconic Giles Gilbert Scott Grade II-listed building, formerly known as the New Bodleian.
Described by lead architect Jim Eyre of Wilkinson Eyre Architects as a ‘cultural and intellectual landmark,’ the reimagined library boasts state-of-the-art facilities for researchers to work with the Bodleian’s outstanding special collections which include some of the world’s most important cultural, intellectual and scientific treasures.
The completion of the Weston Library allows visitors to explore its new, fully-accessible public spaces for the first time. Entering through a spectacular new entrance hall on Oxford’s historic Broad Street, visitors can appreciate and enjoy the library’s great treasures in a variety of exhibition spaces, interact with the Bodleian’s collections through new digital displays, attend talks in a new lecture theatre, relax in a café run by award-winning restaurateurs Benugo and browse in the new retail experience, The Zvi Meitar Bodleian Shop.
Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, said:
‘This project has been an amazing opportunity to transform an unloved library building at the heart of Oxford, and to support the needs of the University long into the future.
‘In a city full of libraries, it is one of the most significant and exciting library transformations for many years. We are particularly delighted to be able to welcome the public into the Weston Library, to help them appreciate and enjoy the collections built up in the University over centuries, and to engage with the ground-breaking research which surrounds these collections in Oxford.’
Within the Weston Library, conservation staff are caring for the collections in new world-class conservation studios that include an integrated workspace for painstaking preservation and restoration of the University’s most important collections.
Above and below ground, more than 40km of secure, state-of-the-art storage facilities now house the Bodleian Libraries’ special collections which include rare books, manuscripts, archives, music, ephemera and maps.
Key materials found within the Weston Library include the largest collection of pre-1500 printed books in a university library, a highly important collection of manuscripts from medieval Europe and the Byzantine Empire and one of the largest concentrations of modern British political manuscripts.
Currently running is the Marks of Genius featuring world-renowned items of the Bodleian’s unique collections, including one of the Bodleian’s engrossments of Magna Carta. For information on the exhibition visit http://genius.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/.